USGA deconstructs as women's take Pinehurst stage


PINEHURST, N.C. – The transition from the U.S. Open to the U.S. Women’s Open was a noisy proposition early in this week.

Construction crews were busy Monday removing close to half of the bleachers directly over the 18th green at Pinehurst No. 2.

Why? The men drew 52,000 spectators here in the second round, according to the USGA, the second largest Friday crowd in U.S. Open history. The USGA is expecting between 20,000 and 25,000 per day for the women this week. All those bleachers put in place for the men would have looked mostly empty for much of this week, if left in place.

Morgan Pressel, 25, a two-time LPGA winner, was standing behind the 18th green with crews busy taking down seats.

“Now that’s just sad,” Pressel said.

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There are also some bleachers on the front nine that are coming down, and a couple leaderboards coming down.

“This is typical U.S. Women’s Open staging,” said Ben Kimball, the U.S. Women’s Open championship director. “If the U.S. Open wasn’t being played, it would be the exact same thing. It’s nothing less for a U.S. Women’s Open. It’s exactly the same for what we’ve done in the past.”

Michelle Wie turned out Sunday to see the men finish up, and she was awed by the massive crowds tucked around the 18th green when Martin Kaymer finished off his victory. She said there’s motivation for the women playing the same venue as the men.

“Seeing the big grandstands for the men, seeing that there were 400,000 people watching the men last week, and then kind of directly comparing that to us, it really puts attention to how much we can get better,” Wie said. “It really puts attention to our goal. We want 400,000 people watching us. We want this many more sponsor tents, we want this many more of this and that. I think it really puts it in perspective of where we want to get to. So I think it definitely pushes us a lot harder when we see that, face-to-face. I think it motivates all of us.”